AMERICAN Partners With Literacy Council To Promote Learning Services in Our Community

Reading and writing well is the first step to success. It’s the first step to doing well in school; getting, keeping and advancing in a job; managing personal finances; and being well. Imagine not being able to read the dosing instructions on a bottle of medication when you or a family member is sick.

For parents, too, reading and writing skills are key to ensuring their children do well in school. Research shows that children of adults who are not strong readers are likely to know far fewer words when they enter school and to lag behind their peers.

AMERICAN is partnering with the Literacy Council of Central Alabama to support learning services for employees and residents of our community and surrounding counties. Services include reading, writing and comprehension tutoring; English classes for speakers of other languages (ESOL); GED Prep classes; and financial literacy.

“The ability to read and write well plays an important role in an individual’s career advancement,” said Steve Hannum, director of initiatives with the Literacy Council. “Individuals with higher reading and comprehension skills have more career opportunities available to them.”

At AMERICAN, these opportunities include supervisory positions, which require good spoken and written communication skills. “Minimum requirements for these positions include the ability to read and write legibly, basic computer and typing skills, and basic math,” said Russ Bradley, manager of Placement/Development.

The Literacy Council offers confidential learning services free of charge to all individuals at its three locations in Jefferson County: Downtown Birmingham, Kingston/North Avondale and its newest branch, North Birmingham. The North Birmingham location, which opened just a few months ago, is housed in the new Salvation Army Center of Hope, just a five-minute drive from AMERICAN’s campus.

While funding is essential, the Literacy Council is also in need of volunteer tutors. “When you help someone learn to read, you are helping that person overcome the hardships that come with illiteracy,” Hannum said. “Giving someone the means to write a simple text or email, read the news, apply for a job, or read the Bible, gives them a new outlook on life.”

“Giving someone the means to write a simple text or email, read the news, apply for a job, or read the Bible, gives them a new outlook on life.”
Steve Hannum, director of initiatives with the Literacy Council

The Literacy Council trains volunteers to serve as an adult basic literacy tutor to work with individuals one-on-one or in a small group, or to teach an ESOL class. Shadowing and support is offered to ensure volunteers are comfortable in their teaching roles.

Becoming a tutor does not require a degree in education or English, or the ability to speak a second language. “While most individuals who come to us for help speak English, we have tutored individuals from more than 40 countries to learn English,” Hannum said.

Interested volunteers are required to attend a free orientation session before registering for tutor training. More information and the orientation scheduled are available on the website at

If you know someone who would benefit from the Literacy Council’s services or you might like to volunteer, call the Literacy Council at 205-326-1925 or visit the organization’s website.